When insulating your crawlspace what should you look for?
In order to maintain the overall energy efficiency of the house or structure, crawlspace insulation is used as one of the measures along with other forms of home insulation. Without crawlspace insulation, heat or coolness can be lost through the floor area. Insulation is also a way of preserving quality air and also keeping away from high utility bills due to energy use. Crawl spaces can be classified into two kinds, the ventilated crawlspace and the unventilated one. Due to the difference in these, both require distinct forms of crawlspace insulation. The goal in both the cases is the same, though, to enclose the space in a thermal envelope which doesn’t allow for air to escape.
If you are looking to insulate a ventilated crawlspace, it is the ideal scenario since it helps in the eradication of moisture; the most suited material for this crawlspace insulation is fiberglass because it can very easily be installed below the subfloor in between the floor joists. It is vital to also secure the insulation and have it covered using a vapor barrier so as to eliminate any chances of moisture and the formations of mould which occurs as a consequence of the present dampness.
On the other hand, if the crawlspace is not ventilated, the focus should be on the insulation of the crawlspace walls instead of the subfloor of the room above it. This typically needs less insulation and will eradicate the requirement to insulate ducts and pipes, individually. It may also be required to install the polyurethane vapor barrier in order to cover the dirt floor and increase the level of protection. Commonly this type of barrier is covered with sand to reduce the risk of any damage being caused.
Also, mostly the do's and dont's of crawlspace insulation are not usually mentioned which leads to some major mistakes being made when it comes to the task. Firstly, the crawlspace ceiling or the floor joists should not be insulated first; most of the homes in the United States use fiberglass insulation for the floor joists, this is done to comply with the building code R-19 which states that fiberglass insulation is installed in the floor joists with the Kraft paper facing the conditioned side of the space. This conditioned space is your cooled or heated house, leading to the fact that most of the crawlspace insulation is installed incorrectly. Installed properly means to the code at the time it was installed not the way it should be. So if the crawlspace insulation of the house was installed when it was built, it was probably installed correctly but may have been later replaced in this way. It is important to check for these kinds of glitches otherwise, the fiberglass insulation is not going to be durable.
The major complaint that we get to hear regarding crawlspace insulation is the cold floors during the winter season. Thus, the topic of crawlspace insulation suddenly emerges during these colder months and there are several companies and contractors guiding you towards what is done in the field since forever. One of the biggest issues with regards to our building industry is that there are no set requirements to get the continuous education in order to stay up to date in this field which is vital. This causes an "always do what we have always done" blunder in construction. The prevalence of this norm in the field leads to very sluggish implementation of latest construction methods, with many companies installing the fiberglass insulation the wrong way. Owens Corning, Johns Manville, Roxul etc however, do not only aim at delivering insulation materials but also keep the goal of imparting knowledge where the correct insulation procedures are concerned.
So, what will result in the proper fiberglass insulation? If the fiberglass is to provide good insulation and last long, it should be clean and placed in a dry space which is not an open crawlspace. The working of the fiberglass insulation is such that it does the job of an insulator by trapping the air in the fibers of the insulation material leading to a slower collision of warm and cold air. When the fiberglass insulation by any chance gets wet or somewhat damp t will begin to collapse, get heavy and fall from the floor joists rendering it useless to trap air and be an insulator. Thus, for this type of insulation to do its job well, it should remain dry, clean and “fluffy” at all times.
Now that we have discussed the crawlspace foundation walls insulation, let’s move on to talk about the lack of heat. By delivering heat to the crawlspace you significantly increase the temperature of the floors in the house. The heat that is being supplied to the crawlspace will do the job of a heater which radiates the heat to other parts of the house and the heat eventually rises towards the ceiling. This time, the ceiling is your floors and the heat is not lost into the attic. This method does not drive up your utility bills either. In fact, it costs less and for several reasons; you do not have the cold air entering the homes envelope which robs the home of heat, the heat stays inside your home (if properly insulated) by leaking into your living area and the warm air that passes from the crawlspace into the living area will help cause the furnace to run fewer cycles. In its simplest form, you are turning your old nasty crawlspace into a mini basement.
Crawlspace insulation installation should begin with the step of covering the ground before which you should remove any items stored as well as any construction debris. Then, insulate using fiberglass insulation batts or rolls. As the last step, the foundation should be enclosed or if it is not then you may fill the space with concrete blocks, bricks or lattice panels. Its important to keep your crawlspace dry and free from gusts of wind as gusts of wind could dislodge your insulation if it is not secure.